Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Process: The Writing Lives of Great Authors” as Want to Read:
Process: The Writing Lives of Great Authors
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Process: The Writing Lives of Great Authors

3.88  ·  Rating details ·  266 Ratings  ·  52 Reviews
Ernest Hemingway, Zadie Smith, Joan Didion, Franz Kafka, David Foster Wallace, and more. In Process, acclaimed journalist Sarah Stodola examines the creative methods of literature’s most transformative figures. Each chapter contains a mini biography of one of the world’s most lauded authors, focused solely on his or her writing process. Unlike how-to books that preach writ ...more
Paperback, 270 pages
Published January 20th 2015 by Amazon Publishing
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Process, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about Process

This book is not yet featured on Listopia. Add this book to your favorite list »

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
Rating details
Sort: Default
Apr 02, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audiobooks, 2017
É sempre um prazer ler (neste caso ouvir) livros sobre livros, autores, rotinas dos autores e outras peculiaridades que caracterizam as vidas literárias (e não só) daqueles que tantas horas de puro deleite nos proporcionam.
I received an ARC of this title from the publisher via NetGalley, in exchange for an honest review.

Published by Amazon Publishing, January 20, 2015

What are we looking for when we look at the lives of great writers? I would assume many of us want the dirt; the broken relationships, alcohol problems, madness and eccentric behaviors we associate with artistic types. This is not a book about those things.

Process: The Writing Lives of Great Authors, is exactly what it says it is. These are not biogra
Scarlett Pierson
Dec 29, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Loved this book. It's perfect for someone that loves reading about authors and how they write. I thought the author sounded legit, informed, and was straightforward. I liked how she stayed on course and didn't get lost in the author's personal lives no matter how crazy they were. One thing she used the word "crystalline" entirely too much!
Myk Pilgrim
Oct 13, 2015 rated it it was amazing
It's good to know that the greats were all crazy too.
Everyone has their own mountain to scale and I am not special.
Loved the 'Day in the life of a writer' sections they gave me a lot of great ideas to test out.
Very interesting read.
Leslie Lehr
May 17, 2017 rated it it was amazing
TEN stars for this book! From Kafka to Kerouc, Didion to Diaz, this paints the big picture of how writers write. Each author, from the classic to the current are profiled in terms of their writing lives, techniques, dreams and a day in the life. Myths are dispelled, truths revealed, and enough affirmation and inspiration for all who endeavor to put worlds on the page. I mean, of course, words. Or did I? This belongs on your writers shelf between Anatomy of Story and Xray Writing.
Excellent on Au
Jan 23, 2015 rated it it was amazing
I received an eARC of this book from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

"Process" is a book about writers and their routines (or lack thereof), collating information about a vast number of writings, from Ernest Hemingway and Virginia Woolf through to Junot Diaz and David Foster Wallace, amongst many others. The book itself is split into sections, aggregating authors with similar processes (speed of writing, avoidance or embracing of the Internet, for example) into each section.

Stoloda ha
Chelsey Quack
Nov 21, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-2016, audiobook
3.5-4 stars, leaning toward 4.

This book is exactly as it is described. If you are interested in the topic, you will find something interesting here. Every chapter, even if you haven't read anything by the author featured, is interesting, engaging, and informative. However, I did find that I liked the chapters better that were about authors whose works I was at least a little bit familiar with. One or two authors I was 100% new to, and those chapters I was less into because it felt like I had a
John Doyle
Jul 12, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: writing
Process is a collection of prosaic essays describing the inspirations, works, and lives of eighteen well-known authors. Your romantic notions of writers in cozy sweaters effortlessly channeling otherworldly inspiration by fires in quiet woodsy cabins near lakes won't survive this book. In fact, after finishing this book I wondered how it is that "successful writer" doesn't regularly outdo "alaskan fisherman" on lists of the world's most hazardous occupations. Kafka, David Foster Wallace, Orwell, ...more
Dylan Perry
Jun 07, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: best-of-2017

Process was as a pleasure to read, from start to end. I'm a sucker for anything about the lives of authors, as well as their creative process, so this was right up my alley. Almost every chapter was interesting in its own right, save for a couple whose work/process didn't really grab me (sorry, Richard Price and Edith Wharton) and the Toni Morrison chapter in particular made me go pick up my current read, Home, and add a great many other books to my ever-growing wishlist. If you're interest
Taylor Church
Jan 28, 2016 rated it it was amazing
This book was just what I needed. As a writer it's great to hear how other writers have done it. Not so much about how they crafted sentences or came up with complex plot structures, but rather the quirky details; how some refused to work before noon, how others could only party in Paris, and write in the states, while one preferred typing in a room painted black. The overall message is that there isn't a precise recipe for greatness, but that you must create your own path and pave it however yo ...more
Feb 14, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: on-books-writing
Fun book that discusses the writing process of about 14 writers: Kafka, Foster Wallace, Nabokov, Woolf, Orwell, Zadie Smith, Wharton, etc. I've seen a few from this genre in the past few years, but this is the one to read. It's more in-depth with new and different information. That is, not just the typical or already well-known stories...the author digs a bit deeper. Fun read if you are a writer.
Apr 26, 2015 rated it liked it
Shelves: book-club
This book is not bad, but if you're interested in reading this kind of thing about great writers, I recommend checking out the Paris Review's Interviews, which are available online for free: (Not everyone in the book is on there, but there are tons more.)
Jan 16, 2016 rated it liked it
Parts of the book were interesting, some weren't. It was a completely disconnected compilation of descriptions of authors.
Andrea Liu
Jan 20, 2015 rated it it was amazing
*Received a free copy of this book through Goodreads First Reads giveaway.

You might think writers who are able to complete a novel have an easier time writing, but actually, they are simply the most persistent.

I found this book to be completely fascinating.

I believe many of us have at least one good story in our imaginations and it’s just a matter of extraction. But how? Each writer has to find out their process, whether it has to do with time of day, arrangement of one or more writing areas,
Angela Hart
Dec 04, 2016 rated it it was amazing
How are you Post-NaNoWrimo? In honor of the writing challenge that just wrapped, I wanted to talk about writing!
Authors *all* write differently. It is important to understand that writing is a personal process and not everyone will write in the same manner. I recommend this book to all writers and anyone who is a literature lover - having read the classics. There is advice about writing and biographical information about the authors.

My BookTube Review:
This book was a very enjoyable collection of insights into the lives, writing lives and writing habits of well known authors. It was a pretty diverse group - Kafka, Hemingway, Zadie Smith, Virginia Woolf - with some attempt at grouping them according to broad writing habits which didn't quite work for me. I was fascinated by the individual entries, although some were more interesting than others but overall it didn't quite draw me in as much as I had expected.
May 09, 2017 rated it really liked it
Top three things I learned from this book:

1. I am woefully under-read in the classics. (Though I'm not really sure I care to remedy that; I've never liked classics much.)

2. George Orwell's real name: Eric Blair. I find this a bit disappointing for some reason.

3. Jack Kerouac was "meticulously organized" and "not a free spirit"; he also never learned to drive, despite having written the iconic travel novel On the Road. I find this all hilarious.
Blake Donley
Dec 28, 2016 rated it liked it
For what it is—and this is well defined from the outset—this is a good book. It is more of a documentary-come-to-book than anything else. It reminded me of a "VH-1 Behind the Music" series devoted to authors. I found the information more interesting than useful. It was an entertaining read, regardless.
Aug 14, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Maybe it was the moment I read it, but it was a very inspiring read. Wasn't looking for anything but all the anecdotes and stories, suggestions, tips and tricks are highly inspiring. Very easy and pleasurable read written by a very good writer too.
Dec 05, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Like candy.
Nathan Swann
Apr 02, 2018 rated it liked it
Whispering Stories
Jan 18, 2015 rated it really liked it
I was given an early copy of this book to review through NetGalley.

Sarah Stodola wanted to learn about the writing habits of not only the greatest authors living today, but those that have since died. With the help of the author’s documents, she has managed to do just that.

Her book is split into nine sections with each section featuring two authors, from the "Nine-to-Fivers" to "Two Takes on the Digital Age". Each author is given a mini-biography of their lives and the way in which they write/wr
Jan 16, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: first-reads
Copy received through Goodreads’ First Reads program.

It’s always interesting to learn more about the writing habits of famous authors, for at least one non-embarrassing reason: the interest in learning more about beloved authors, their biographies, and the additional humanity that such knowledge bestows upon favorite novels. (There’s also the embarrassing belief that, if we all just knew the secret “how,” we’d all be capable of great literature. It’s certainly not the “not writing anything ever
Jan 23, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction, writing
Sarah Stodola has written an interesting book in Process: The Writing Lives of Great Authors. This book is of interest to more than just those drawn to the writing life. People who are interested in how their favorite books might have been written will enjoy it as well.

From the Introduction: "Process will also interest those who love literature with without wishing to create it themselves, in the same way that seeing the way a car motor works can be fascinating for mere drivers. One of the grea
T. Renee Doty
Nov 05, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: own-and-read
This book was such a good choice! The basic premise is that Stodola researched/or interviewed a large pool of writers to learn about their process. While listening to this book it helped me to remember a very important facet of writing--there is no one way to be a writer. So many how-to books willl give "unbreakable" rules, but a lot of the writers in this book (past and present) had to find what worked for them!

It also made me feel more confident in my own writing, it also felt more legitimate
Dec 10, 2014 rated it really liked it
I enjoy reading books on writers and this then, that focuses on the approach to the writing of some of my favorites (Diaz, Foster Wallace and Smith, just to name a few), it was really very interesting. Written in a easy way and full of vignettes on the lives of these authors, is a must-read book, not only for those who would like to be a writer, but also for all those who would like to have more information about some of their favorite authors.

Mi piace molto leggere i libri sugli scrittori e que
Jan 15, 2015 rated it really liked it
I chose to read The Process for the same reasons that Stodola admittedly wrote it: curiosity about writers’ lives, and the possibility of finding some secret tip from the world of great writing (something that might translate to my own battles with creativity and procrastination).

Included are some fascinating insights into writers’ creative habits and I loved the excerpts from the works themselves that Stodola paired with explanations of author style. Stodola’s prose is mostly fluid, and she pr
Aug 01, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: netgalley-books
Sarah Stodola has mined the expanse of author biography to come up with a definitive book about the writing process for different authors through different times. Varying from F. Scott Fitzgerald, Jack Kerouac, David Foster Wallace to Zadie Smith, amongst many more, this book is divided into section on differing work habits. There are writers who treat the process like a 9 to 5 job, those who take their time and those who place themselves inside their stories. I really enjoyed this collection bu ...more
Adam  McPhee
Nov 25, 2015 rated it it was ok
Shelves: biography
Interesting to see the process of writers I've admired over the years (Richard Price, Zadie Smith, Hemingway, Orwell), and trying to figure out what they have in common. But then I read the same thing about authors I'm indifferent to or outright dislike (David Foster Wallace, James Joyce, F. Scott Fitzgerald) and I started to worry that the obsession with the writer's process, even when outlined with the best of intentions, has a tendency to fetishize the act of writing, and turn it into the rom ...more
Davis Das
Mar 26, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Awesome book for aspiring writers. Sarah explains the daily workflow of some of our great writers Some of the key takeaways: almost all writers write in the morning - when their brain is fresh, many were influenced by other writers, and almost all wrote in a dedicated space - away from distraction. It's pretty clear that in order to write, a writer needs to enter a flow state, where he/she is not disturbed, and allowed time to let their mind roam. I also found it quite interesting that some mode ...more
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
  • Why I Write: Thoughts on the Craft of Fiction
  • Spider, Spin Me A Web: A Handbook for Fiction Writers
  • Writing Is Acting: How to Improve the Writer's Onpage Performance
  • The Art of Slow Writing: Reflections on Time, Craft, and Creativity
  • Jack London: A Life
  • Write Like the Masters: Emulating the Best of Hemingway, Faulkner, Salinger, and Others
  • The Classic Slum: Salford Life in the First Quarter of the Century
  • The Creative Year: 52 Workshops for Writers
  • The Book Lovers' Anthology: A Compendium of Writing about Books, Readers and Libraries
  • Stan Lee's How to Write Comics: From the Legendary Co-Creator of Spider-Man, the Incredible Hulk, Fantastic Four, X-Men, and Iron Man
  • Selected Letters of Norman Mailer
  • Charles Dickens and the Great Theatre of the World
  • Advice to Writers: A Compendium of Quotes, Anecdotes, and Writerly Wisdom from a Dazzling Array of Literary Lights
  • Songwriters On Songwriting
  • A Writer Teaches Writing Revised
  • Your Best Brain: The Science of Brain Improvement
  • Touch Magic: Fantasy, Faerie & Folklore in the Literature of Childhood
  • Stylized: A Slightly Obsessive History of Strunk & White's the Elements of Style

Nonfiction Deals

  • Masters of the Air: America's Bomber Boys Who Fought the Air War Against Nazi Germany
    $15.99 $3.99
  • The Monster of Florence
    $10.99 $2.99
  • The Westies: Inside New York's Irish Mob
    $9.99 $1.99
  • April 1865 (P.S.)
    $11.74 $1.99
  • Jesus Is ______: Find a New Way to Be Human
    $7.99 $0.99
  • Scent of the Missing: Love and Partnership with a Search-and-Rescue Dog
    $17.99 $1.99
  • Lab 257
    $8.74 $1.99
  • How Not to Hate Your Husband After Kids
    $9.99 $2.99
  • Girl in the Woods: A Memoir
    $11.99 $1.99
  • The Power of When: Discover Your Chronotype--and the Best Time to Eat Lunch, Ask for a Raise, Have Sex, Write a Novel, Take Your Meds, and More
    $14.99 $2.99
  • The Last Lecture
    $10.99 $2.99
  • Love Wins: A Book About Heaven, Hell, and the Fate of Every Person Who Ever Lived
    $12.74 $1.99
  • Not Tonight, Honey: Wait 'Til I'm A Size 6
    $10.99 $1.99
  • Dog Years
    $13.74 $1.99
  • The Defining Decade: Why Your Twenties Matter--And How to Make the Most of Them Now
    $11.99 $2.99
  • Heroes, Gods and Monsters of the Greek Myths
    $9.99 $1.99
  • Ladies of Liberty: The Women Who Shaped Our Nation
    $5.99 $1.99
  • The Ends of the World: Volcanic Apocalypses, Lethal Oceans, and Our Quest to Understand Earth's Past Mass Extinctions
    $12.99 $1.99
  • Feast: True Love in and out of the Kitchen
    $4.99 $1.99
  • The Last of the Doughboys: The Forgotten Generation and Their Forgotten World War
    $15.99 $1.99
  • Vaccinated: One Man's Quest to Defeat the World's Deadliest Diseases
    $10.99 $1.99
  • Troublemaker: Surviving Hollywood and Scientology
    $12.99 $2.99
  • An Appetite For Wonder: The Making Of A Scientist
    $7.99 $1.99
  • Letters of Note: An Eclectic Collection of Correspondence Deserving of a Wider Audience
    $27.99 $2.99
  • Waiter Rant: Thanks for the Tip-Confessions of a Cynical Waiter
    $8.74 $1.99
  • Sex Object
    $9.74 $2.99
  • Dakota: A Spiritual Geography (Dakotas)
    $13.99 $1.99
  • Restless: Because You Were Made for More
    $7.49 $1.99
  • Fifth Avenue, 5 A.M.: Audrey Hepburn, Breakfast at Tiffany's, and The Dawn of the Modern Woman
    $10.24 $1.99
  • The Song of the Dodo: Island Biogeography in an Age of Extinctions
    $16.99 $2.99
  • Happiness: The Crooked Little Road to Semi-Ever After
    $13.99 $3.99
  • Man-Eater: The Life and Legend of an American Cannibal
    $5.99 $2.99
  • Pukka: The Pup After Merle
    $17.99 $1.99
  • The Purpose Driven Life: What on Earth Am I Here For?
    $9.99 $2.99
  • Arctic Dreams
    $17.99 $1.99
  • Alive: The Story of the Andes Survivors
    $19.99 $1.99
  • Boundaries: When to Say Yes, How to Say No to Take Control of Your Life
    $10.99 $2.99
  • Buddhist Boot Camp
    $11.99 $1.99
  • Flour: A Baker's Collection of Spectacular Recipes
    $21.99 $3.99
  • The Longest Day: The Classic Epic of D-Day
    $12.99 $3.99
  • The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People: Powerful Lessons in Personal Change
    $5.99 $1.99
  • Lost in the Cosmos: The Last Self-Help Book
    $9.99 $1.99
  • Moving Beyond Words: Essays on Age, Rage, Sex, Power, Money, Muscles: Breaking the Boundaries of Gender
    $17.99 $1.99
  • Six Degrees: Our Future on a Hotter Planet
    $5.99 $1.99
  • Do the Work
    $4.99 $1.49
  • The Lost Tribe of Coney Island: Headhunters, Luna Park, and the Man Who Pulled Off the Spectacle of the Century
    $4.99 $1.99
  • I Suck at Girls
    $10.74 $1.99
  • The Beauty Myth: How Images of Beauty Are Used Against Women
    $14.99 $2.99
  • A Mind of Your Own: The Truth About Depression and How Women Can Heal Their Bodies to Reclaim Their Lives
    $18.99 $1.99
  • Band of Brothers: E Company, 506th Regiment, 101st Airborne from Normandy to Hitler's Eagle's Nest
    $12.99 $3.99
  • Peace Is Every Breath: A Practice for Our Busy Lives
    $9.49 $1.99
  • Savage Harvest: A Tale of Cannibals, Colonialism, and Michael Rockefeller's Tragic Quest for Primitive Art
    $14.99 $1.99
  • Londoners: The Days and Nights of London Now--As Told by Those Who Love It, Hate It, Live It, Left It, and Long for It
    $7.24 $1.99
  • The World's Last Night: And Other Essays
    $7.99 $1.99
  • Tracks: One Woman's Journey Across 1,700 Miles of Australian Outback
    $17.99 $1.99
  • Daring to Drive: A Saudi Woman's Awakening
    $13.99 $1.99
  • Hell's Princess: The Mystery of Belle Gunness, Butcher of Men
    $5.99 $2.99
  • Life
    $11.99 $2.99
  • Seeing Further: The Story of Science and the Royal Society
    $13.24 $2.99
  • Grace, Not Perfection (with Bonus Content): Celebrating Simplicity, Embracing Joy
    $8.99 $1.99
  • The Promise and the Dream: The Untold Story of Martin Luther King, Jr. And Robert F. Kennedy
    $9.99 $1.99
  • Through the Eyes of a Lion: Facing Impossible Pain, Finding Incredible Power
    $9.99 $1.99
  • Why We Run: A Natural History
    $9.49 $1.99
  • Edgar Allan Poe: The Fever Called Living
    $5.99 $2.99
  • The Road to Jonestown: Jim Jones and Peoples Temple
    $12.99 $2.99
“The way Smith sees it, this kind of approach denotes a certain category of writer: the Micro Manager. Authors fall into one of two primary camps, she explained in her 2009 book of essays, Changing My Mind.691 Macro Planners work out the structure of their novels and then write within that structure. Micro Managers, on the other hand, don’t rely on an overarching configuration (don’t even conceive of one), but rather home in on each sentence, one by one, and each sentence, as they come to it, becomes the only thing that exists. If there is a spectrum starting with Macro Planners on one end and Micro Managers on the other, Smith would be somewhere to the right of the page. Smith’s writing is entirely incremental and cumulative. The grand plan is that there is no grand plan; working things out ahead of time ruins everything, “feels disastrous.”She prefers the writing of a novel as a process of discovery. “The thinking goes on on the page,” not beforehand.” 0 likes
“Like so many authors, Price confesses that he hates writing. “The only thing worse than writing is not writing,” he once told the London Telegraph.152 Which could be the key to the whole thing—choosing the anxiety of writing over the small death of not doing it.” 0 likes
More quotes…